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Full text of "Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon [and] Marcel Duchamp, 1957. January 8 to February 17, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, March 8 to April 8"

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

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http://www.archive.org/details/jacquesvillonrayOOsolo 




Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Puteaux, igi: 



JACQUES VILLON 



RAYMOND DUCHAMP-VILLON 



MARCEL DUCHAMP 



r 957 



January 8 to February 17 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 

The Museum of Fine Arts of Houston 

March 8 to April 8 



Printed in Switzerland by StSmprli & Cie., Berne, 1956. 



Foreword 



There is one feature which is strikingly characteristic of the art of the three brothers Jacques 
Villon, Raymond Duchamp -Villon and Marcel Duchamp. Juan Gris, the most rationalistic, 
but at the same time one of the greatest of the cubist painters, used to say : ' One must 
be inexact, but precise.' This is one of the essential qualities of poetry. It is what gives the 
effect of poetry to painting and sculpture. It is the common factor—perhaps the only one— 
which links the very dissimilar work of these markedly different artists. 
At the same time, however, this maintenance of the 'inexact, but precise' in the art of these 
three brothers has its roots in a basic similarity of approach. Each in his own way sought 
to work out a tightly reasoned mode of pictorial or sculptural expression. 
Each seemed particularly careful to avoid any concession on his part to the emotions. Art 
for all three was fundamentally intellectual, scientific and only secondarily sensuous. 
Jacques Villon saw painting as 'a method of prospecting, a manner of expression. With color 
as bait/ with drawing as the fisherman^s line, painting, he has stated, ' brings up from the 
unknown, inexhaustible depths, possibilities barely suspected; it leads them step by step to 
the plane of human consciousness, and there, with subtlety, this tenuous material crystallizes'. 
This 'step by step' progress with Villon involves the conception of color on the part of the 
artist 'as a weight in the scale of the emotions' which increases 'when Red, Blue and Yellow are 
in the required balance as dictated by the chromatic scale'. 'Colors become values which 
through their interplay... produce a state of receptiveness.' Villon's science of expression 



goes further to involve an adaptation of Leonardo's theories in his Treatise on Painting on 'the 
influence of the pyramid': 'This is the art of painting by pyramids, the forms and colors of 
the observed objects. I say "by pyramids", for there is no object however small which is 
not larger than the point where these pyramids meet. Therefore, if you take the lines at the 
extremities of each body and if you continue them to a single point, they will converge into 
the pyramidal form.' 'By superimposing on the painting this pyramidal form,' Villon adds, 
'one gives it a density in which the interaction of echoing colors produces depth— a depth 
creating space.' 

Raymond Duchamp -Villon, the sculptor brother, in a letter to Walter Pach in January 191 3, 
discussing what would be necessary if a style reflective of the period were to be found for 
contemporary architecture, explained his viewpoint that we should not try to adapt the forms 
and lines of even the characteristic objects of our time. This he felt 'would only be a trans- 
position of these lines and forms to other materials and therefore an error'. We should 
rather fill our minds tirelessly 'with the relationships of these objects among themselves in 
order to interpret them in synthetic lines, planes and volumes which shall, in their turn, 
equilibrate in rhythms analogous to those which surround us\ 

This was Duchamp -Villon's science of expression through which he attempted to achieve 
his precision of correlation and at the same time avoid exactitude. We have a clear illustration 
of it in his last major work The Horse. 'At the beginning, the problem,' as Mr. Pach points 
out, 'had been that of movement— the gallop or trot of the horse.' Innumerable naturalistic 
studies were made. 'Then came the allusion, more and more evident to the machine and to the 
analogy of the two forces. . .' This grew from version to version until the realization of the 
final sculpture which is inexact both as an image of a horse and as an image of a machine, 
but which, in its fresh organization of precise sculptural relationships stands as an independent 
composition of forms suggesting both horse and machine. 

Finally in Marcel Duchamp's La Mariee mise a nu par ses celibataires, meme we find no pretention 
whatsoever to exactitude, but a strict and demanding precision in every millimeter of sur- 
face to the point of satirizing scientific precision through the nonsensical physical science 



of the Large Glass — its 'Pataphysique', as Duchamp himself has said, employing Alfred Jarry's 
word. But this base of nonsensical physical science in the organization of the iconography 
serves a purpose in Duchamp's glass similar to that which the anecdotal order provides in 
Lewis Carroll's Alice and Through the Looking Glass. Possibly there is even an added relationship 
in the chess player habit of mind in both Carroll and Duchamp. 

This is the ground on which the work of the three brothers Villon, Duchamp -Villon and 
Marcel Duchamp have their closest link, this consciousness of the importance for art to be 
' inexact, but precise ' and their realization of this in their work. 

But beyond this all three have made their individual contributions to the esthetic shape of 
our age. 

Jacques Villon, the oldest, is in a sense the youngest of the three— both in the spirit of his 
latest work and in his productivity. Although Villon was associated with the cubists as early 
as 191 1 his work has always kept a distinctive, personal character. His fugal concept of color 
composition gives his canvases a much more lyric tone than that of his colleagues of the great 
years of the movement. They are more luminous, less architectural in organization. And possibly 
his emphasis on light effects is what gives his paintings today the air of youthfulness, of con- 
temporaneity in our period. 

Another feature of Villon's cubism notably personal to him is the sensibility of his portraits. It 
is doubtful if any cubist portrait can compare in sentimental evocation or humanity of sug- 
gestion with Villon's Portrait of his Father, 1924, to name only one of a long series of eloquent 
portrayals. 

In The Horse Duchamp -Villon has left one of the master works of European sculpture of the 
first two decades of the twentieth century. It achieves the metaphor in sculpture in a way that 
few artists have excelled. It pointed to a new field of expression that its creator was amply fitted 
to explore had he had the opportunity to do so. The small sketch Portrait of Professor Gosset, 
barely more than an artist's note, done just before his death hinted at the direction in which 
the power, drama and sense of form which he embodied in his 1911 Baudelaire might have 
been carried to new heights. But The Horse in itself remains a life work and a period's achievement. 



Of the three brothers Marcel Duchamp perhaps left the deepest impress on his time. In 
fact few painters in any period have contributed as widely to the intellectual texture of their 
time as Duchamp has. As a painter his achievement was concluded by 191 5, but as an artist 
in a much wider sense his work goes on today. His earliest official showings took place in 
the cubist years before the first World War; his Young Man in a Train, Nude descending a Stair- 
case, King and Queen surrounded by Swift Nudes, were painted in the years Futurism was still not 
too far in the past to have its interest; his 'ready-mades' were disclosed to a mystified world 
when Dada was striving energetically for less profoundly disturbing effects. Between the 
demise of Dada and the flowering of surrealism Duchamp was looked to as a leader, even as he 
was when it was necessary to find someone to inspire and direct the installation of the Sur- 
realist exhibition in Paris in 1938 and in New York in 1942. 

Painting is only one aspect of art in Duchamp's view. 'I have always had a horror of being 
a "professional" painter,' he will explain. 'The minute you become that you are lost.' This is 
a temptation to which Duchamp has never succumbed. For all that he remains in one sense 
a painter's painter— or more correctly an artist's artist. He feels that since the time of Im- 
pressionism the visual creations of painters for the greater part have had no deeper commu- 
nication than to the retina of the observer. Impressionism, fauvism, cubism, abstract art have 
all been 'retinal' painting. 'Their preoccupations have all been physical, the reactions of colors 
and the like, always relegating to second place intellectual responses.' 

What Duchamp felt was needed in the twentieth century was new hospitality to the mind on 
the part of the artist and the public. Painting was more than a mere physical experience. The 
sensuous was part but not the first part nor the greater part of a work of art or of its 
appeal. 

The recall of the intelligence to painting and sculpture— a fuller and richer art was Marcel 
Duchamp's ideal. He felt that 'taste' had too long ruled tyrannously without right. 'The great 
aim of my life,' he has said, 'has been a reaction against taste'. 

The great merit of surrealism in Duchamp's opinion is that it attempted to go beyond a simple 
satisfaction of the eye— 'the halt at the retina'. But he adds, T did not want to be understood 



as saying that it is necessary to recall the anecdote in painting. Men such as Seurat and Mon- 
drian were not mere "retinals", even though to a superficial view they may have had the air 
of being so.' 

— Nor was Duchamp himself in his paintings before he turned to 'ready-mades' and his Large 
Glass; nor Duchamp -Villon in his Baudelaire or The Horse; nor Jacques Villon in any of 
his fullest work— his best portraits, /<?//, or his abstractions of the early twenties. All three when 
they succeeded in being 'inexact, but precise', penetrate deep beyond the retina to that area 
of judgment which alone can enjoy and appreciate the tension between the inexact and the 
precise in a work of art. 

James Jo hnso n Sweeney 




Jacques Villon «Soldicrs on the March » 191 3 Oil 25 5 / fi X3 6 V4" 



Galcric Louis Carre, Paris 




Jacques Villon «Game» T919 Oil 36 1 / 4 X28 3 / 4 



Galcric Louis Carre, Pari 




Jacques Villon «GalIop» 1921 Oil I7 3 /4X 3i 7 /s 



Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 




Jacques Villon « Color perspective)) 1921 Oil 2I 3 / 8 X28 5 / 8 " Collection The Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, New York. Gift, Kathcrinc S. Drcicr Estate 




Jacques Villon «Withdra\val» 1921 Oil 28 3 / 4 X36 1 / 4 " 



Galcrie Louis Carre, Paris 




- 

Jacques Villon ((Portrait of Artist's Father* 1924 Oil zi'/oXici 



Collection The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 





Jacques Villon « Space » 1932 Oil 45 5 / 8 X35' 



GaJcrie Louis Carr£, Paris 




Jacques Villon «Blindman's Buff» 1942 Oil 3i 7 /8X25 5 /s" 



Collection Mr. and Mrs. c harks X.ulok. MiKv.iukc 








Jacques Villon « Self Portrait » 1942 Oil 36 1 / 1 X25 5 / 8 



Collection Mr. and Mrs. Francis Stccgmullcr, New York 



Silent journey 



For Villon, Cubism meant the conquest of a purity impossible to attain without that interior 
struggle which both the Impressionists and the Fauves were unwilling to make. He sponta- 
neously made the most effective criticism of their weaknesses. The world with its first day 
freshness which they all tried to recreate was not made of soft vapours and effervescent patches. 
Throughout this whole period Villon avoided needless temptations and closed himself up in 
a meditation, the spirit of which was already determined by his austere palette, where grays 
predominated. 

After the war in which he served in a camouflage unit— the destiny of painters— Villon came 
back to a rather lonely life. Engraving assured his financial independence and he continued 
his researches which tended to increase the spiritual intensity of the painting. The ten years 
from 1923 to 1933 were devoted to probing deeply into these problems; his concern to de- 
fend the inherent quality of the work led him to join those artists whose rule is to avoid any 
anecdotal element, knowing that 

« Le sens trop precis rature 
Ta vague litter at ure ». 

But the moment when Villon yielded to this extent to the charms of abstraction was also the 
moment when he surrendered to color and cultivated a sumptuousness which until that 
moment he had disdained. 



He studied the chromatic circle and classified the effective shades into a hierarchy which later 
was to govern his reactions as a painter. Few careers show so surely that the real problem 
for the painter is to know how to adapt himself to his discoveries. 

In his last period, after 1935, Villon, still withdrawn from the hubbub of artistic life, but 
with a complete mastery of his expression transposed in it new experiences, the most precious 
of which was a prolonged contact in 1940 with the countryside of the southwest. According 
to his way of putting it, 'he touched the earth once again'. The harvests, the vintage, the 
complete georgic cycle which revolves round bread and wine— just as Villon's art revolves 
round an interest in primary structures and simple colors— now add the final touch of their 
generosity to the painter's felicitous conquests. 

A career that is the frank and discreet career of a master of bygone days ; who was it who 
said of Villon, 'He is another Corot' ? This is profoundly illuminating when one compares the 
lucid statements of Villon with what Poussin, another Norman sure of himself, wrote in a 
letter. 'My natural disposition forces me to seek and cherish orderly things, avoiding con- 
fusion which is as contrary to my nature as is light to obscure gloom.' 

Patterns of design 

The themes of the painter are those of us all : the only difference is that of style and intention. 
An interior may be a palpitation of lights around a piano, on whose keyboard lies an open 



book: nothing subsists in the elements indispensable for evoking the world of the musician, 
and to inscribe it within the painting, a rhythm restored by another rhythm. The essential 
operation, the painter's very own act, is this feeling of loftiness, this sudden capture of dis- 
tance in which the knowledge of the artist supports his will unequivocally. A black inkpad 
on a mahogany desk, an armchair before the hearth... the scene is for him only a certain 
projected force which will animate the painting with a presence as elusive as one may wish, 
but indestructible. 

Chance gives the furnishings of a room an air of cohesion which reminds one of the char- 
acteristics of the human face and the features of a landscape : it is this which holds the 
painter and which he sublimates with complete liberty. 

But Villon is less attentive to moments of repose and contemplation than to scenes of move- 
ment. Poussin, Seurat worked with a similar predilection at organizing difficult scenes, such 
as did not lend themselves naturally to unity : bacchanales or Sunday crowds. The circus, 
with its small, multi-colored, bouncing universe, has never ceased to interest him. The ease 
of the acrobat and of the bare back rider implies a long practice in dislocation and recovery, 
in which the artist recognizes his own preoccupations. With an almost fraternal tenderness 
he adorns them with his purest colors and encloses them within his most eloquent lines, as 
though to represent— what in reality he does represent — the workings of the world. 
Finally, the human face and landscape have become his major themes. Before his own image 



in a mirror, caught in the imperious network of reflections, true and false at the same time, 
man eagerly questions himself. And the calm undertaking of Villon, the certainty of his anal- 
yses, the luminosity of the precious diamond on which he works, is the answer to the grav- 
ity of the question. In the portrait of his father, in his self-portraits, he has brought the 
most astonishing visions of man to a century which fears them, and which he dominates 
through this special privilege. But, like Poussin and Seurat, he has finally allowed himself to 
be convinced of the superiority of the landscape to the still life and even the portrait : trees, 
houses, mountains, the sky, the earth enact a drama or a fairy tale and are characters in it. 
From it is released a dynamism which has only to be expressed. In the life of the country- 
side everything is related, is a challenge, an exhilaration; the composition is an incessant 
movement 'like a battle'. 

Villon gathers and restores the rhythm of this violence and succession in a way that is almost 
epic in these series inspired by 'treading the corn' in the Tarn-et-Garonne and by 'threshing' 
in Normandy. The accent is so liturgical, the light is so pure and intense, that we find the 
true symbol of elementary life, as if Villon had wished to restore the primitive significance 
which colors had in the Middle Ages and which they still have in song— red the fire, blue 
the sky, green the water, ashen the earth; the others only the result of their mixing. 
This is triumphal art, this festive painting, proceeds from an admirably pure and deliberate 
draughtsmanship; network of haunting aud regular lines weaves the delicately graded shadows, 



but between the meshes leaves place for light. It spreads out swift and undulating fasces 
which could unfold the universe; a piece of bread, the contour of a cheek are simply its acci- 
dents. The lines take their places, run by, bind all together untiringly, as in the invisible 
studio where the scene is created. The artist, circumspect, fearful, authoritative, keeps the law 
and spreads the woof. The result is a song of the Fates, a continual gossip on life, but one 
which follows a simple and austere rule which makes it loyally bow to the eternal. It is not 
surprising that one of these drawings portrays a skull, calm and mineral in the tradition of 
the 'memento mori' of the classics, a spiritual symbol which, like the power of destiny, puts 
everything in its proper place by a pure act of attention. 

It has been justly said of Seurat that the systematic spirit so evident in the geometry of his 
forms, the regular minutiae of his brush stroke, was not in his case at the service of his pride. 
Lacking the basic and, so to speak, protective assertion of the harmonic rule that he set him- 
self, the artist would not succeed in making nature give way : for nature surrenders to science 
what does not speak to the sensations. 'I was the cubist impressionist,' says Villon, 'and I 
believe that I remain that. Perhaps less cubist, less impressionist, more I do not know what 
and what I am still seeking.' But in his work we have the answer. It is that he has found it 
in the celebration of the royal wedding of abstraction and sensibility that perpetuates the 

legitimate dynasty of French Art. 

Rene -Jean 

From Jacques Villon on l' Art G/orieitx. Paris, Louis Carre, 1948 



Observations by Jacques Villon 



What is painting? 

Painting is a way of prospecting, a form of expression. With color as bait, with drawing as 
the fish line it pulls up from the inexhaustible gulf of the unknown, possibilities only sur- 
mised and brings them by successive efforts to the plane of human consciousness. There with 
subtlety it crystallizes them from the unsubstantial. It expresses the perfume, the spirit, the 
soul of things of which science only catalogues and explains the outward appearance. 



How does painting express itself? 

I have just said, by color within an exacting pictorial structure. 

Everyone is familiar with the statement of Maurice Denis in which he stressed the fact that 

a painting before being a 'war horse' or a 'nude woman' is essentially a flat surface covered 

with colors assembled in a certain order. 

The Impressionist painters consulted the scientists and little by little pure color came into 

its own and from the purely decorative realm it entered by the front door into -A.rt. 

It was a revelation, for color unconcerned with natural tones seeks to express itself by its 

own means; to express sentiments, no longer sensations. 

Color is a weight of the scale that weighs the emotions; and this weight increases as Red, 

Blue, Yellow take their places out of a need for equilibrium which the color cycle dictates 

to them. 



Colors become values which through their interplay from the moment of the first chord pro- 
duce a state ol receptiveness. That state allows the spirit to be carried along by a constrained 
elan and to succumb to the spell of a work while espousing the rhythm which has controlled 
its elaboration. Rhythm is the vital design showing through all things. 
During the construction of the picture and in combination with the first outlines, an influence 
intervenes which, after da Vinci, might be called 'the influence of the Pyramid'. 
'This is the art of painting, by means of pyramids, forms and colors of observed objects. I say 
"by pyramids", for there is no object however small, which is not larger than the point where 
these pyramids meet. Therefore, if you take the lines at the extremities of each body, and if 
you continue them up to a single point, they will have converged into the pyramidal form.' 
By superimposing on the painting this pyramidal vision, one gives it a density in which the 
interaction of echoing colors play about in depth— a depth which creates space. 
You may say : But does not this wealth of color lead to mere fugues ? That can be argued ; 
for instance, abstract art is a case in point. It gives the artist, if not the spectator, the pleasure 
of a commander-in-chief maneuvering his battalions of colors. 

It is also logical to use this wealth of color to magnify all possible themes borrowed from 
life. For it is life that supplies the hand which notes them down, the eye which classifies 
these arabesques which retain only the essentials of the themes. It is life which is the true 
backbone— the keystone of the picture which in its turn becomes a being in its own right— a 
thing in its own right, no longer an open window. 

All these reflections are, of course, only reflections ; the main thing, for creating masterpieces 
is to have genius; one should, however, not disdain these notions; they prevent taste from 
becoming the sole master. 

To sum up, for me, the picture is a creation in which the subject— the pretext furnished by 
a perceived rhythm, expressive of our unconscious life brought to the level of consciousness- 
is translated into areas of color, into a hierarchy of colored planes ; the whole is bound to- 
gether by an arabesque, closely incorporated into the basic division of the canvas where all 
elements are brought into balance. 

From Jacques Villon. Editions de Beaune, Paris, 1950 



r w 




,.■ .<■* ■■ t . ■••■.■''.■ 



, flt'ffom 



Jacques Villon « Landscape with Black Cedar » 1946 Oil i}Xi6Vs" 



Collection Mr. and Mrs. William D.Vogel, Mihvaukc. 




Jacques Villon « Cherry Tree in Bloom » 1943 Oil 28 :l / 4 X 23 6 /s" Collection Mr. and Mrs. Ira Huipt, New York 




Jacques Villon «Garden in Party Dress» 1948 Oil 2i 1 / 4 X28 3 / 4 " 



Galerie Louis Cai 




Jacques Villon « The Little Machine Shop» 1946 Oil 31'/., • 45" s " 



The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. 





Jacques Villon « Large Mowing-machine with Horses » 1950 Oil 38V4X57 1 /! 



Collection Richard Zeisler, New York 




Jacques Villon «Portrait of the Artist (Lc matois) » 1949 Oil 39 3 / 8 X 28 3 / 4 



:. Institute, Pittsburgh 




Jacques Villon «Bircl Cage» 1955 Oil i8 l / 8 Xzi B /a" 



Galerie Louis Carre, Pari 




Jacques Villon «Bouvard and Pecuchet» 195-5 Oil 2iV 4 X28 3 / 4 " 



Galcric Louis Carre, Paris 




Jacques Villon « Along the Park» 1955 Oil 25 s 8 X 3i 7 /s" 



Galcrie Louis Carre, Pari 



Biographical Notes 



Jacques Villon 



1875 31 July, born at Damville (Eure), Gaston Duchamp studied at 

the lycee in Rouen, began studies of law 
1894 To Paris, in the Atelier Cormon 
1 894-1910 Drawings for weekly newspapers, V Assiette au Beurre, 

Le Courrier Francais, etc.- Lived in Montmartre from 1895-1906, 

made engravings in black and in color 

1904 Associate member of Salon d'Automne, member of the Com- 
mittee until 191 1 

1905 Rouen, first exhibition (with Raymond Duchamp-Villon), Galerie 
Legrip 

191 1 Adherence to cubism 

1 91 2 Co-founder of the Section d'Or 

Exhibited in first Section d'Or.Galerie La Boetie, Paris 

191 3 Participated in New York Armory show: 

Trees in Bloom; Little Girl at Piano; Study for Young Woman; Study 
for Puteaux, No. 1 ; Study for Puteaux, No. 2; Study for Puteaux, 
No. ); Study for Puteaux, No. 4; Study for Little Girl at Piano; 
Young Woman 

1 914 2 August, mobilized, sent to the front in October 
19 16 Exhibition in Christiania (Oslo), Norway 

1919 Demobilization 

1919-1922 First abstract period 

1922 One-man show, Societe Anonyme, New York 

Exhibition with Louis Latapie, Galerie Povolozky, Paris 

1921-1930 Engravings in color after the work of modern masters 

1925 Last exhibition of Section d'Or, Galerie Vavin-Raspail, Paris 

1928 Exhibition, Brummer Gallery, New York 

Exhibition of engravings in color after modern masters, Galerie 
Bcrnheim-Jeune, Paris 

1930 Abandons engraving reproductions to devote himself exclusively 
to painting 
Exhibition, Brummer Gallery, New York 

1933 Beginning of present period - return to direct study, color pre- 
dominating. Exhibition, Arts Club of Chicago 



1934 Exhibition, Marie Harriman Gallery, New York 

1935 Exhibition, Petit Palais, Paris 

1936 Trip to America 

1937 International exhibition in Paris. Two diplomas of honor. One 
gold medal (painting and engraving) 

Named chevalier de la Legion d'honneur 
1939 First Salon des Realites Nouvelles, Galerie Charpentier, Paris 
1942 Exhibition with the sculpture of Duchamp-Villon, Galerie de 

France, Paris 

1944 Exhibition, Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

1945 Exhibition of Duchamp, Duchamp-Villon, Villon, Yale Uni- 
versity Art Gallery 

1948 Exhibition, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen 
Exhibition, Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 
Participation in Venice Biennale 

1949 Exhibition, Louis Carre Gallery, New York 
Exhibition, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston 
Exhibition, Arensberg Collection, Art Institute, Chicago 
Grand Prix, for engraving, exhibition, Lugano, Switzerland 

1950 Exhibition, Phillips Gallery, Washington, D.C. 
Exhibition, Delaware Art Center, Wilmington 
Venice Biennale, Salle Jacques Villon 

First prize, International Exhibition of Pittsburgh, 
Carnegie Institute 

195 1 Exhibition, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris 

1952 Exhibition, Arts Club of Chicago 

1953 Exhibition, Rose Fried Gallery, New York 

1955 Exhibition, Musee Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi 

Exhibition, Lucien Goldschmidt, New York, publication Virgil's 
Bucolics, ill. by Villon, 25 full color lithographs 
Exhibition, Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 
Exhibition, Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York 

1956 Venice Biennale, first prize for painting 
Exhibition, Drawings, Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 



Raymond Duchamp-Villon 




Raymond Duchamp-Villon «Large Horse» 1914 Bronze 39V high 



Galerie Louis CarrS, Pari 



Raymond Duchamp-Villon was born at Damville (Eure) in 1876. His maternal grand- 
father, E. Nicolle, had devoted his life to engraving 'the hundred bell-towers' of the 
old Norman city of Rouen, and it was doubtless from this grandfather that Duchamp- 
Villon drew inspiration for his career. In any case, having finished his medical studies 
and having reached the age of twenty-six, hefelt himself irresistibly attracted toward 
sculpture, an art in which he had indeed had a passionate interestfora long time. His 
elder brother, Jacques Villon, had already abandoned the practice of law in order 
to devote himself to painting and, in Marcel Duchamp, the youngest of the three 
brothers, the same vocation had declared itself. The points of contact among the 
three young men served only to accentuate the independence of their characters, 
and if they saw the evolution of their period too clearly for them to take opposing 
courses, their differences of concept still resulted inclear-cut distinctionsamong 
them, as every observer can see. A respectful sympathy did reign among the three, 
but not to the point of preventing Duchamp- Villon's remark that 'We are the severest 
critics of one another'. 

During the first part of his life as an artist, he had shared the admiration in which 
Rodin was held by all the younger generation, but he soon understood the need 
to turn away from the line laid down by the sculptor of the Impressionist School. 
And so, between 1904 and 1906 we see Duchamp-Villon wrestling with the problem 
of directing his work to a more solid base than sensibility to the luminous surface. 
He suppresses the delicacies of modeling for the sake of the great planes which 
determine structure; he studies the relationship of figures— one with another, and 
with the forms that surround them. For us, who seethe succession of his researches, 
the man is already hi m self in these first efforts, just as the young Corot and the young 
Cezanne foretell the work they will do later in life. 

From 1907 to 1910 date sculptures like the Old Peasant and the Girl Seated in 

which, even while he seeks outthe essential directions of the planes, the artist uses 



rounded surfaces. In 1910, thanks to the efforts of the young Cubist group, he comes 
to understand how much he can accentuate the form and prevent any ambiguity as to 
its relationship with nature by respecting the clean and cutting edges that one sees 
in the Torso of a Man and, even more, in the Dancers of the following year (1911). 

Still, with his natural faculty of remaining faithful to himself, it is at the same time that 
he executes the bust of Baudelaire, where the qualities of both types of work com- 
plete each other harmoniously. Not until two years later, in the series of bas-reliefs: 
the Cat, the Parrot and above all in that magnificent panel of the Lovers does he 
let himself go on to the use of separated planes which he recomposes according to 
the needs of the space in which they are to exist and according to a conception still 
further liberated from the imitation of nature. In this we see an effect of the work 
with architecture that Duchamp-Villon had undertaken the preceding year (1912). 

One more step leads us to the Seated Woman of 1914, and the evolution touches 
its culminating point in the Horse, on which the sculptor was engaged when the 
war was declared, and which was to remain the subject of his meditations through- 
out his time in the army. Numerous drawings and studies of the subject were to 
modify his original conception, and they permitted him, during a furlough, to arrive 
at the execution of the definitive model. It is the last complete work of his career, for 
we must consider the Cock— for all its conciseness— as a return to ideas expressed 
three years previously. As to the small heads and portraits executed in the year 
before his death, they were regarded by him as mere studies. 

Sculpture was what interested Duchamp-Villon almost exclusively. Yet his activity 
extended to results too important to let them pass unmentioned, even in a brief 
examination. He had made serious studies of medicine, and when the war broke 
out he was attached as aide-major to the 11th Regiment of Cuirassiers. After 
having assured the service of the hospital of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, he was sent 
to the front, and it was during his time in the trenches that he contracted the fever 
which, after two years of suffering, brought on his death in 1918, only a few days 
before the armistice. 

'In the notes of his that we have found,' wrote Jacques Villon, 'some are related to 
the conception of a Center of Surgical Instruction. Our poor friend manifested, 
during as before the war, a tremendously active brain.' One seesthe proof of this 
observation in the published extracts from his letters, in that so witty and so original 
piece, Les Semaphores, which he wrote in collaboration with Jean Keller, and 
above all in his study of the Variations in Consciousness. But the most remarkable 
thing that Duchamp-Villon conceived, aside from his sculpture, was unquestion- 
ably his work in architecture. 

It is necessary to consider this not as an isolated and personal thing, but as one 
closely bound up with the tendencies of his generation. The moment of impression- 
istic analysis having passed, the school which succeeded it, guided merely by its 
sensibility, had contributed all that it was capable of adding to our ideas, and so 



the men who, in 1912, were preoccupied with arriving at realizations, were proceed- 
ing to a new synthesis. From every side there came demands for a modern archi- 
tecture, one that would serve as a frame and as scaffolding for the various arts, and 
thus permit their cohesion in a logical group. Duchamp-Villon, whose letter of 
January 16, 1913, will give a clear-cut explanation of his ideas on this subject, was 
chosen as the man to create, at the Autumn Salon of 1912, an architectural setting 
which should bring together painters, sculptors, and the artists who worked in 
glass and with furniture. This choice was due to the character of his talent, in the 
first place, but we have also to see in it a testimony to the esteem in which he was 
held by his colleagues. The fact was that Duchamp-Villon was known as a man 
whose spirit was one of irreproachable probity. While holding to well-defined and 
clear opinions as to the tendencies of his period, he had always been hostile to 
those manifestations of mean and self-seeking politics which too often govern 
exhibitions. Duchamp-Villon was therefore completely designated to inspire con- 
fidence in men working in isolation, and to furnish them with the means for creating 
that collective movement which was becoming felt as an imperious need. 

The architecture which was to concentrate all the scattered efforts had to remain 
within the limits set by practical possibilities of realization. But the important thing, 
above all and basically, was to satisfy the needs of a form corresponding to con- 
temporary conditions of thought and construction. On these points the letter pre- 
viously cited contains important definitions. The general aspect of this Facade 
for a Residence, so appropriate for the modern streets of French and indeed 
foreign cities, was devoid of any element which might shock a spectator uninitiated 
in the more interesting ideas which governed the work; on the contrary, many 
visitors to the Salon were naturally attracted to the series of rooms forming the 
interior of the building because of this architecture which was so distinctly new — 
and yet 'legible' and reassuring, through its success in incorporating the Cubistic 
forms in a practical building. 

None the less, Duchamp-Villon had obtained this effect without the slightest sacri- 
fice of the ideas which he considered important. On the contrary, new possibilities 
opened up before him the further he advanced in his work. 'It is almost droll,' he 
said, 'the pleasure I have in arranging simple square blocks, one with another, 
until I have found a true relationship of forms and of dimensions.' And then the 
satisfaction he felt that day when, having noticed a drop of water that had frozen 
on the outside of his house, he stylized it into the little triangle which decorates 
the balustrade on the first floor of his Facade for a Residence. Thus each form 
had its origin in observation of nature or in the movement of thought and, at the 
same time, in the system of aesthetic organization whose development was being 
pursued by his generation. How clearly we see in this the direction taken by the 
great architectures of the past! 



A second architectural work, one which unfortunately remained merely as a model 
(a very complete model, however) was prepared forthe building of a college. Several 
passages in the artist's letters deal with this work, which already offered sure indi- 
cations of originality and certitude that go far beyond those which distinguished 
his first effort. Duchamp-Villon's purpose was to attain a style open to all men, and 
one whose general idea — which will remain his creation — should be utilizable for 
the most diverse constructions. Before a photograph of one of those formidable 
groups of New York skyscrapers, he exclaimed that he was seeing the cathedral of 
the future. When 1 said, on a certain occasion, that Duchamp-Villon lives and will 
live, even for those who were not acquainted with him, I was thinking of the people 
who, more and more, are moving on to a conception like his; the people who see 
the possibilities of realizing that conception, and especially those who see the 
interest there would be in doing so. The style he bequeathed to us is, as a matter 
of fact, accessible to other artists, and even while I am engaged in writing these 
lines, men in different countries, very far one from another, are struggling to incor- 
porate the living ideas of the sculptor-architect in constructions which must express 
the existence of a modern world. 

And yet it is to sculpture that we must return in order to appreciate the highest value 
of Duchamp-Villon's art. He himself returned to it with great satisfaction after having 
accomplished the architectural work imposed by his comrades of the Salon. His 
mind had developed in the intervening time, and in the Lovers one observes not 
alone a conception of sculpture purer and more evolved than what he had had pre- 
viously, but also depths of tenderness and of strength which he had not attained 
before reaching this work. With the Seated Woman he again attacks the problem 
of sculpture in the round, and the work is an essay on the nature of solids such as 
he had not written at any earlier time. 

And still it was for a more complete and definitive expression that he was preparing 
himself, when he came to the Horse. The works of Duchamp-Villon are, all of 
them, the result of long preparations; they are a summing up of varied and repeated 
studies. But not one of his sculptures appears to have been the object of deeper 
meditation than the Horse. The number of models marking all the stages traversed 
by this work indicates the development of his idea, from studies of a predominantly 
realistic nature, which nearly always were this sculptor's point of departure, down 
to the drawings announcing the end of the research by showing the almost purely 
mechanistic form ulain which Duchamp-Villon saw the equivalent, outside of nature, 
for the movement of the animal. Jacques Villon noted in a letter, 'During the war, 
having come to a better understanding of the horse (as a doctor attached to a 
regiment of Cuirassiers, he had become an accomplished horseman) he had not 
ceased to envisage the work he had begun, and it is by dozens that we find the sketches 
which modified his first model'. 



At the beginning, the problem had been that of the movement— the gallop or trot— 
of the horse. Then came the allusion, more and more evident, to the machine and to 
the analogy of the two forces as the characteristic of the thought of our time. And 
while the animal and the machine were merging into a sort of projectile (that was 
the word chosen by Henri Matisse, when speaking to Duchamp-Villon, a short time 
after the outbreak of the war), the ensemble was acquiring, more and more, a mo- 
numental quality— which is to be seen, however, even in the first models. 

At the same time, the surface modelling was disappearing, to leave bare the big 
planes as they played together in a fashion at once moving and logical. A definitive 
execution in steel was to have given the final amplitude to this aspect of the piece. 
From whatever angle one looks at it, the equilibrium keeps up to an equal degree, 
the profiles fly to their summit with lines as living as flames, or dart back in perspec- 
tive—as well controlled as the movement of an orchestra; the surfaces continue 
each another or accentuate each other masterfully, great alternations of light and 
shade are organized— dramatic and sonorous: Duchamp-Villon had carried through 
to full success a work for which no parallel had existed before. It was a thing of our 
period, and one with that hard and healthy beauty which justifies a period. 

And yet the life of this artist was far, very far, from having given everything. In con- 
trast with men like Masaccio, among the masters of the past, orSeurat.amongthose 
of our time, Duchamp-Villon is not of those artists who have had intimations of 
their death and who have concentrated within a few years a development to attain 
which others require three or four times the same span. With his sober nature, his 
power of calculating and his need to build on a sound foundation, Duchamp-Villon's 
way of constructing might be said to be that of the pyramids; if the work he has 
left is unshakable and impressive, we must recognize, unfortunately, that the pro- 
duction he counted on to continue it is lacking, and will remain lacking forever- 
whatever the influence of the sculptor on the later men. His death, then, seems to 
have nothing in common with a tragedy built up and regulated according to the 
law of poets, proceeding as they do with logic and with compensating movements; 
his death incorporates directly with all that is tragic in life, whose logic is to be 
discerned by no one. 

We are still very near to the man ; and we feel too vividly the bitterness of our I oss 
to be able to say what would have been the consequences of his evolution if he had 
lived on. Not that we can have any doubt as to a succession of fine works, for if we 
can deduce one thing as certain from his production, it is that we could still have 
expected much from him, and we know well that our conviction on this point is not 
due either to the great charm of his personality or to our grief over his disappear- 
ance. It is his whole work that makes us thus sure, and the question is whether the 
future will be able to reach the depths of the lesson he gave from study of his finished 



works. Time will be needed, perhaps (we recall Seurat, for example, and his not 
being appreciated at his true value until many a year after his death) but it is per- 
missible to hope that the oncoming generations will know how to profit by the ideas 
defined by Duchamp-Villon. 

And we will not avoid uttering an opinion on his accord with the long line of artists 
of his country. Their essential quality is to bear within them the feeling for art which 
the past has transmitted to them and to give it new forms. This is again the prime 
characteristic of Duchamp-Villon. Place his Torso of a Man beside one of those 
figures of warriors from the tympanum of Aegina at the Munich gallery. The French 
sculptor knew them only by reproductions if he knew them at all, but no one will fail 
to be impressed by the relationship of mind which brings him so close to the Greek 
sculptor who announces the end of the archaic age. Long before the present time, 
Barye had made us feel the family likeness between modern French sculpture, and 
that of the archaic Greeks; Duchamp-Villon worthily continues the lesson of the 
older man. 

But another school of the past furnishes us even more reasons to believe in the 
value of the contemporary sculptor. Compare that magnificent head of Baudelaire 
with the immortal figures on the Portail Royal of Chartres— it is the same art des- 
cending to us across the centuries, the same science of the planes as that which 
made up the strength of the Gothic sculptors— and the love which led Duchamp- 
Villon to honor the great poet of his period caused him to express in this face a 
sentiment of fateful grandeur in which the masters of the cathedrals might have 
recognized themselves. Look again at the bas-relief of the Lovers and see whether 
thelogicofthedesigndoesnot have the quality of inevitability of the cathedral itself. 
And as to that quality of renewal in the form which belongs to the essence of things 
for the French artist, the Horse and indeed the entire work of the sculptor's matu- 
rity are there to prove that he has the right to be considered as an innovator quite 
as much as he is a conserver. 

He is in his work and will be known through it. It was through the work that many 
(including the writer of these lines) were drawn to the man himself. Before the sober 
and often uncommunicative externals of works of art, it is still possible to reach 
intuitions as to the personal qualities of the individuals who created those works; 
those who can do so may still cross the abyss separating the artist from even the 
men nearest to him; for persons of such insight there will also be accessible the 
kindness, the honesty, the gay humor and the calm fervor that we knew so well in 
our great friend. 

Walter Pach 
From « Raymond Duchamp-Villon, sculpteur.» Povolozky, Paris, 1924 




Jacques Villon « Portrait of R. Duchamp -Villon » T91I Oil Ij'^XIO 1 /," Collection Music National d'Art Moclcrnc, Paris 



Excerpts from a letter to Walter Pach 



January 16th, 1913 

... I do not believe that an epoch wholly creates its aestheticism. It finds the germ 
of it in the arts of preceding generations which prepared it quite unconsciously. 
There remains a considerable work to be accomplished in order that the idea, 
blindly conceived— but ready to live, be developed and in its turn leave fruitful seed. 

In the special case of architecture, the attempts made in France since the XVIIIth 
Century have not resulted in style. The buildings have the marks of the different 
periods of the XlXth without our being able to work out from them a well-defined 
tendency — as characteristic, for example, as that of furniture in the first half of the 
same century. That confirms me in my opinion that in an epoch of floating ideas and 
aspirations there can be no definitive or durable monument. It would seem that the 
balance between the political mechanism and the free functioning of the machinery 
of thought should favor the beginning of the XXth Century, and that there should 
really be a great desire, in our time, to give its true setting to the new social organi- 
zation. For the need of such a setting makes its elf felt through the confusion amidst 
which decorative art is struggling. You have well demonstrated that the aesthetics 
of the XlXth Century was dominated by painting, and that from it alone must come 
forth the new principles of the other arts— everybody feels this, and Cezanne will 
be looked on, from this point of view, as the best worker for the renascence in France. 

If we examine the civilizations of Egypt, Greece, Rome and France, we are struck 
by the unity that governs every manifestation of their spirits from the attitude of the 
living being to the monument — passing through furniture, costume and articles of 
common use or of luxury. 

In our day what could be more inconsistent, more of an anachronism, than a dress- 
suit in a Louis XV boudoir, or an electric tram on the square before the palace of 



Versailles? If, in certain cases these meetings are inevitable, they should be the 
exception, and disappear so to speak, in normal surroundings. The dress-suit and 
the tramway are of our time; we owe them an appropriate frame, and on the 
conception of it their aspect will have its influence for the relationship is 
evident between the forms that clothe life and the aesthetic formulas of the same 
epoch. 

It is, I think, from this fact that we should inspire ourselves in establishing a new 
architectural setting — not that we should try to adapt the forms and lines of even 
the characteristic objects of our time, which would only be a transposition of these 
lines and forms to other materials and therefore an error — but rather that we should 
tirelessly fill our minds with the relationships of these objects among themselves 
in order to interpret them in synthetic lines, planes and volumes which shall, in their 
turn, equilibrate in rhythms analogous to those which surround us. 

We are the victims today of our unbridled activity, and our existence ceaselessly 
turned toward the morrow is forcedly rapid and, so to speak, cutting. Our movements 
are jerky, our voluntary gestures without emphasis; the spectacles sought for by our 
eyes are all of motion, and the words that our minds prefer express most in the 
least time. From this aspect of our surroundings and many others there works out, 
for me, a predominance of the straight line over the curved line, a predominance 
pushed to the point of tyranny. At the same time, as a reaction against our era of 
business, where money is the sovereign master, it seems to me that simplicity, 
austerity even, are the indispensable virtues, and that our idea of the beautiful 
should be clothed in them. An art which establishes itself on these bases is ne- 
cessarily in absolute contradiction not only with the received ideas of the present, 
but with those of the past, for this past is also, at many points, the contrary of our 
present. 

You will now understand better under what influence my searches for an archi- 
tectural setting were made. It is the influence unconsciously felt by every true artist 
of the new generation. The power of the machine imposes itself and we scarcely 
conceive living beings any more without it. We are strangely moved by the rapid 
brushing by of men and things and we accustom ourselves without knowing it to 
perceive the forces of the former through the forces they dominate. From that to 
an opinion of life in which it appears to us simply under its form of higher dynamism 
there is only a step, which is quickly made. . . 

Raymond Duchamp-Villon 




Raymond Duchamp-Villon «Torso of a Young Man" 1910 Bronze 21'/." high 



Salerie Louis Carre, Paris 




Raymond Duchamp-Villon «Baudelaire» 1911 Bronze \5*U" high 



Galerle Louis Carrd. Paris 




Raymond Duchamp-Villon Maggy» 1912 Bronze 287«" high 



Galerie Louis Carrfe. 




Raymond Duchamp-Villon «Cat» 1913 Concrete 25" diameter 



Collection The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York Gift, Katherlne S. Dreier Estate 




Raymond Duchamp-Villon «Lovers» 1913 Bas-relief Lead 267<x39 3 /» 



6alerie Louis CarrS, Pari 




Raymond Duchamp-Villon « Seated Woman" 1914 Bronze 27'/» ' high Yale University Art Gallery, Collection of the Soclete Anonyme 




Raymond Duchamp-Villon «Horse and Rider» 1914 Bronze 11 1 /*" high 



Galerie Louis Carr6. Paris 




Raymond Duchamp-Villon u Head of Horse» 1914 Bronze 15 3 /. high The Louise and Waller Arensberg Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art 



Biographical Notes 



Raymond Duchamp -Villon 



1876 5 November, born Damville (Eure) 

1918 7 October, died military hospital, Cannes 

c. 1898 Studied medicine for three years before turning to sculpture 
Abandoned medicine to devote himself to sculpture, self- 
taught 

1901 First exhibition, Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris 

1901-1908 In annual exhibitions of Societe Nationale 

Worked first under the influence of Rodin, then Maillol 

First important sculpture, Old Peasant ; second, a large torso 

of female nude 

1905 Associate member of the Salon d'Automne, later member of the 
Comite 
Exhibited annually at Salon d'Automne until 1913 

1908 Salon d'Automne: Song (plaster) 

Portrait of a Young Girl (bronze) 

1909 Salon des Independants: Old Peasant (stone bust) 

Portrait of a Child (plaster) 
Salon d'Automne: Girl seated (bronze) 
Song (wood) 

1910 Salon des Independants: Portrait of a Man (marble) 
Salon d'Automne: Pastorale (plaster) 

In adjoining homes at Puteaux, he and Jacques Villon began 
open-house Sundays 

1911 Baudelaire (bronze) 

Salon d'Automne: Wood Nymph (bronze) 

Baudelaire (plaster bust) 
Beginning of Cubist influence on his work 

1912 Joined Cubists 

Began studies to result in Horse 
Exhibited with Section d'Or 

Salon d'Automne: Facade for a Residence, architecture and 
sculpture 



1913 Salon d'Automne: Bas-relief (plaster) 

Bust (plaster) 

Sculpture, bas-reliefs, architecture of the 

ensemble Andre Mare 
Return to more personal expression after communal work 
Lovers (bas-relief) 
The Rider (bronze) first version of Horse 

1913 Armory Show, N.Y.: Facade for a Residence (plaster) 

Torso (plaster) 
Girl of the Woods (plaster) 
Dancer (plaster) 
Baudelaire 
Worked on architectural sculpture for a college in Connecticut 

1914 Horse, final version (bronze) 
Seated Woman (bronze) 
Exhibited Prague, Berlin, Ghent 

Joined French Army, doctor to 11th Cuirassiers 

1916 During World War I, contracted blood poisoning 

Did Portrait of Professor Gosset (his doctor) during illness 

1918 Died, Cannes 

Left unfinished manuscript, Variations de la connaissance 
pendant le travail d'art 

Retrospective Exhibitions: 

1917 Independent Artists, N.Y. 

1919 Salon d'Automne, Paris 

1921 Exhibited henceforth with Societe Anonyme, N.Y. 

1926 Retrospective des Independants, Paris (6 works) 

1929 Brummer Galleries, N.Y. 

1931 Galerie Pierre, Paris 

1942 Galerie de France, Paris (with brothers Jacques Villon and 

Marcel Duchamp) 
1945 Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn, (with Jacques 

Villon and Marcel Duchamp) 



Marcel Duchamp 




M»t**i (/ilk, 



Jacques Villon « Portrait of Marcel Duchamp» 1 95 1 Oil 57 1 .'.X44'/8 



Collection Niels Onst:id, New York 



Lighthouse of the Bride 



Buildings flung under a grey sky turning to pink, very slowly — it is 
in a troubled and anguishing style of conquest, where the transitory 
conflicts with the pompous — all this has just arisen in no time at some 
extreme point of the globe and there is nothing that can prevent it, 
besides, from melting for us at a distance into the most conventional 
scene of modern adventure, gold prospectors or others, as the early 
years of the movies have helped to fix it: haute ecole, luck, the fire 
of feminine eyes and lips; though in this instance it is a purely mental 
adventure, I get easily enough this impression of the greatness and 
the indigence of 'cubism'. Whoever has once caught himself in the 
act of believing the doctrinal affirmations from which this move- 
ment draws authority, of giving it credit for its scientific aspirations, 
of praising its constructive value, must in fact agree that the sum of 
research thus designated has been but a plaything for the tidal wave 
which soon came and put an end to it, not without upsetting from 
base to summit, far and wide, the artistic and moral landscape . This 



landscape, unrecognizable today, is still too troubled for anyone to 
pretend that he can rigorously untangle the deep causes of its 
torment: one is generally content to explain it by referring to the 
impossibility of building anything stable on socially undermined 
foundations. However expedient may be this manner of judging, 
which happily recalls the artist to a just appreciation of his limitations 
(the more and more necessary transformation of the world is other 
than that which can be achieved on canvas), I do not think that it 
should absolve us from studying the process of formation of the par- 
ticularly hollow and voracious wave which I have just mentioned. 
From the strictly historical point of view, it is very important, in 
order to bring this study to a proper conclusion, to consider attentively 
the place where the very first characteristic vibrations of the phe- 
nomenon chose to be recorded, in this instance the general disposition 
of this or that artist who has proven himself on this occasion to be 
the most sensitive recording instrument. The unique position of 
Marcel Duchamp at the spearhead of all ' modern ' movements which 
have succeeded each other for the last twenty-five years was, until 
quite recently, such as to make us deplore that the externally most 
important part of this work, from 1911 to 1918, rather jealously 
guarded its secret. If the ' tidal wave ', which was later to be so vastly 
disrupting, could have once begun to swell, one had certainly come 
to think that Duchamp must, from the start, have known much 
about its resources, and one suspected him rather of having opened 
for it some mysterious valve. But one scarcely hoped to be some day 
more fully enlightened as to the part Duchamp had played. Therefore 
the publication, in October 1934, of ninety-four documents assembled 
by him under the title: La Mariee mise a nu par ses celiba- 
taires, meme, which suddenly overturned before us this wave and 
afforded us a glimpse of all that is most complex in its enormous 
machinery, could not fail to pass for a capital event in the eyes of 
all who attach any importance to the determination of the great 
intellectual motives of our day. 

In a text that was destined to stress the most unfortunate aesthetic 
calculation, Edgar Allan Poe, after all, once expressed an admirable 
decision that has ever since been shared by all artists worthy of 
that title and still constitutes, though perhaps unconsciously for 
the majority of them, the most important of all directives. Poe 
wrote indeed that originality, except in minds of the most unusual 
vigor, is in no way, as many seem to believe, a matter of instinct 
and intuition; to find it, one must generally seek it laboriously and, 
though a positive merit of the highest order, it is achieved rather 
by the spirit of negation than by the inventive spirit. 

Without prejudging the degree of 'unusual force' which precisely 
can be the mark of a spirit such as Duchamp's, those who have been 



introduced to him to any extent will feel no scruples in recognizing 
that never has a more profound originality appeared more clearly 
to derive from a being charged with a more determined intention of 
negation. Does not all the history of poetry and ait for the last 
hundred years strengthen in us the conviction that we are after all 
less sensitive to what we are told than to what we are spared, for 
instance, from repeating? There are various means of repeating, 
from pure and simple verbal repetition, so inept, like for instance 
' blue skies ' — which, when I come across it as soon as I open a book 
of poems, relieves me, with good reason, from the need to become 
aware of the context — passing through repetition, in the sphere of 
art, of the subject treated, fallaciously excused by the new manner 
of treatment, or repetition of the manner, fallaciously excused by 
the novelty of the subject, to repetition, in the sphere of human 
existence, of the pursuit of some artistic 'ideal' which requires con- 
tinuous application, incompatible with any other form of action. 
Where else, if not in the hatred we feel for this eternal repetition, 
can we seek the reason for the increasing attraction exercised on 
us by certain books which are so strangely self-sufficient that we 
consider their authors have discharged their indebtedness: Les 
Chimeres, Les Fleurs du Mai, Les Chants de Maldoior, Les 
Illuminations? Is it not, besides, reassuring and exemplary that, 
at this price, some of these authors also considered themselves 
free from debt? Absolute originality, from refusal to refusal, ap- 
pears to me to lead inevitably to Rimbaud's conclusion: ' I am a thou- 
sand times the richest, let us be as miserly as the sea.' This refusal, 
pushed to the extreme, this final negation which is of an ethical 
order, weighs heavily on all debates arising from a typically modern 
artistic production. Nothing can prevent the abundance of this pro- 
duction, in a given artist, from being, until this attitude changes, 
its very drawback. Originality nowadays is narrowly connected with 
rareness. And on this point, Duchamp's attitude, the only one that 
is perfectly uncompromising, whatever human precautions he may 
surround it with, remains, to the more conscious poets and painters 
who approach him, a subject of confusion and envy. 

Marcel Duchamp limits to approximately thirty-five the number 
of his activities in the field of plastic production, and even then he 
includes among them a series of achievements that an insufficiently 
sophisticated critical attitude would refuse to consider in one class: 
I mean, for instance, the act of signing some characterless large 
decorative panel in a restaurant and, generally speaking, that which 
constitutes the most obvious (and what might be the most daz- 
zling) part of his activities of twenty years: the various specula- 
tions in which he became involved through his preoccupation with 
those ready-mades (manufactured objects promoted to the dig- 



nity of objects of art through the choice of the artist) by means of 
which, from time to time and with complete contempt for all other 
media, he very proudly expressed himself. But who can truly say 
how much it may mean, to those who really know, a signature 
that has been used openly in such a parsimonious manner? An 
intense and fascinating light is cast by it, no longer only on the 
narrow object that it generally locates, but on a whole process of 
intellectual life. This process, a most peculiar one indeed, can 
achieve its full meaning and become perfectly understandable only 
once it has been reunited to a series of other processes, all of a causal 
nature and not one of which we can afford to ignore. And all this 
means that one's understanding of Duchamp's work and the fact 
that one foresees its furthest consequences can only be the result of 
a deep historical understanding of the development of this work. 
And because of the prodigious speed with which this work de- 
veloped, the very limited number of Duchamp's public utterances 
would make it necessary to enumerate them all without omitting 
any. I am, however, forced here to list only his more characteristic 
works. 

Duchamp's Coffee-grinder (late 1911) indicates the start of the 
purely personal development that interests us; compared to the 
guitars of the cubists, it takes on the appearance of an infernal 
machine. The years 1911 and 1912 indeed already reveal the full 
extent of Duchamp's dissidence, a dissidence that affirms itself 
brilliantly as much in the subject-matter as in the manner of his 
paintings; and one should note that the major part of his more 
purely pictorial work falls into these limits of time (Sad young 
man in a train. Nude descending a staircase. King and 
queen surrounded by swift nudes, King and queen crossed 
by swift nudes. Virgin, The passage from the virgin to the 
bride. Bride). It was as early as the end of 1912 that Duchamp 
suffered the great intellectual crisis that progressively forced him to 
abandon this mode of expression which seemed vitiated to him. The 
practice of drawing and painting appeared to him as a kind of 
trickery that tended towards the senseless glorification of the 
hand and of nothing else. The hand is the great culprit, so how can 
one consent to be the slave of one's own hand? It is inaccept- 
able that drawing and painting should today still stand 
where writing stood before Gutenberg came. To delight 
in color, which is all based on enjoyment of the sense of smell, 
is as wretched as to delight in line, which is based on enjoy- 
ment of the hand's sense. The only solution, under such conditions, 
is to unlearn painting and drawing. And Duchamp has never 
abandoned this purpose since that date; this consideration ought, 
I believe, to be enough to induce one to approach with a very special 



interest the gigantic purpose to which, once such a negation had 
been formulated, he nevertheless devoted his strength for over ten 
years: it is into the details of this purpose that the publication of 
these documents initiated us, a purpose unequalled in contempo- 
rary history and which was destined to be achieved in the huge 
glass (an object painted on transparent glass) entitled La Mariee 
mise a nu par ses celibatahes, meme and left unfinished 
in New York. In this work it is impossible not to see at least the 
trophy of a fabulous hunt through virgin territory, at the frontiers 
of eroticism, of philosophical speculation, of the spirit of sporting 
competition, of the most recent data of science, of lyricism and of 
humor. From 1913 to 1923, the year when Duchamp finally 
abandoned this work, all the paintings, whether on canvas or on 
glass, that would have to be included in a catalogue of his works are 
but research and fragmentary attempts to achieve the various parts 
of La Mariee mise a nu. Such indeed is the case of the Choco- 
late-grinder, of the Glissiere or Slide, of the Neuf moules 
malic, all of 1913, as well as of the 1914 Chocolate-grinder and 
the glass To be watched closely with one eye ior almost an 
hour of 1918, which latter is a variation on the Oculist witnesses 
that likewise are part of the general description. At most, one might 
class as a partial exception to this rule the composition entitled 
Tu m', where there appear, on the right, the three standard stops 
that are included here in the composition with two ready-mades, 
on the one hand (an enamelled hand and a ceiling-brush), and on 
the other hand with the shadows cast by three other ready-mades 
brought close together (a bicycle wheel, a corkscrew and a coat- 
hanger). 

A falling back on these ready-mades, after 1914, began to sup- 
plant, for Duchamp, all other forms of self-expression. It will be 
of great interest, some day, to explain the full meaning of all these 
projects, each so rigorously unexpected, in this respect, and to try 
to unravel the law whereby they progress. I can only recall now the 
Pharmacy of 1914, conceived in Rouen when Duchamp saw a 
snowscape (he added to a water-color, of the 'winter calendar' 
type, two tiny characters, one red and the other green, walking 
towards each other in the distance); also the ceiling of Duchamp's 
studio in 1915, bristling with objects such as coat-hangers, combs, 
weathercocks, all accompanied by some discordant inscription that 
served as a title or a caption (a snow-shovel was titled, in English, 
In advance oi the broken arm); Duchamp's birthday present 
to his sister, which consisted in suspending by its four corners, 
beneath her balcony, an open geometry-book destined to become the 
plaything of the seasons; the rebus composed of a nursemaid and a 
lion's cage (Nous nous cajolions); the latrine exhibited in 1917 



at the New York Independents Show under the title Fountain, 
and which Duchamp was forced to withdraw after the opening, as a 
result of which he resigned from the Association; his adding, in 
1919, a moustache to the Gioconda (LHOOQ); his 1921 window 
entitled Fresh Widow which was a pun on the sound's ambiguous 
similarity with French Window (this consisted of a small win- 
dow, manufactured by a carpenter after Duchamp's instructions, 
whose glass panes are covered with leather so that they become 
leather panes that must be polished) ; his 1922 window, a replica of 
the earlier one, but this time with a wooden base where bricks are 
drawn and with glass panes streaked with white like those of new- 
ly-built houses (La bagarre d'Austerlitz); his little 1923 bird- 
cage filled with pieces of white marble cut to look like cubes of 
sugar and through whose top there emerged a thermometer (Why 
not sneeze?); his design for a perfume bottle, Belle haleine — 
Eau de voilette; his 1925 bond on the Monte Carlo roulette 
(Moustiques domestiques demi-stock) ; finally Duchamp's 
door, described for the first time in the summer 1933 issue of 
Orbes as follows: 'In the apartment entirely constructed by Du- 
champ's hands, there stands, in the studio, a door of natural wood 
that leads into the room. When one opens this door to enter the 
room, it then closes the entrance to the bathroom, and when one 
opens it to enter the bathroom, it closes the entrance to the studio 
and is painted with white enamel like the interior of the bath- 
room. ('A door must be either open or closed' had always see- 
med to be an inescapable truth ; but Duchamp had managed to con- 
struct a door that was at the same time both open and closed.) One 
should also list contemporary with this series of activities that do 
not back continuity, on the one hand some optical research intended 
to be particularly applicable to movies, to which category belongs 
his famous cover design for an issue of Minotaure, as well as two 
different versions of a moving sphere on which a spiral is painted 
(the first version belongs to 1921 and the second, Rrose Selavy 
et moi nous estimons les ecchymoses des Esquimaux aux 
mots exquis, belongs to 1925-26), and, on the other hand, some 
verbal research in which he was more actively and particularly en- 
gaged around 1920 (some puns by Marcel Duchamp were published 
in the fifth issue of the new series of Litterature, October 1922 
as well as on the front inside cover of Pierre de Massot's The 
wonderful book, in 1924). 

To this day, no cataloguing of this sort has been attempted; I there- 
fore feel that my own may suffice, temporarily at least (until some- 
body chooses, as is proper, Duchamp's ready-mades as the sub- 
ject of a thesis, and even this would not exhaust the topic). But we 
still have to consider rather closely, likewise for the first time, 



Marcel Duchamp's monumental work beside which all his other 
works seem to gravitate almost like satellites, I mean La Mariee 
mise a nu pat ses celibataires, meme. The collection of docu- 
ments that Duchamp published some years after abandoning this 
work in an unfinished state casts some appreciable light on its 
genesis, though this light itself cannot be truly enjoyed without 
some additional information. To recognize the objective value of 
La Mariee mise a nu, one requires, in my opinion, some 
Ariadne's thread that one would seek in vain among the thickets, 
whether written or drawn, that are contained within this strange 
green box of published documents. And it is necessary first to go 
back to a reproduction of the glass object before one can identify 
the various elements that constitute the whole, before one can be- 
come aware of their respective parts in the functioning of the whole. 

I. Bride (or female hanged body) reduced to what one might 
call its skeleton in the 1912 canvas that bears this title. — 2. Ins- 
cription lor the top (made out of the three pistons lor droits 
surrounded by a kind of milky way). — 3. Nine malic moulds, 
or Eros machine, or Bachelor machine, or Cemetery lor 
uniiorms and liveries (state trooper, cuirassier, policeman, 
priest, bellhop, department-store delivery-man, flunkey, morti- 
cian's assistant, station-master). — 4. Slide (or chariot or sleigh, 
standing on runners that slide in a gutter). — 5. Water mill. — 
6. Scissors. — 7. Sieve (or drainage slopes). — 8. Chocolate- 
grinder (bayonet, cravat, rollers, Louis XV chassis). — 9. Re- 
gion of the splash (not shown). — 10. Oculist witnesses. — 

II. Region of the gravity manager (or gravity caretaker, not 
shown). — 12. Pulls. — 13. Bride's clothes. 

The above described morphological analysis of the Mariee mise 
a nu allows a very summary idea of the physiological data which 
determined its elaboration. Actually, we find ourselves here in the 
presence of a mechanistic and cynical interpretation of the pheno- 
menon of love : the passage of woman from the state of virginity to 
that of non-virginity taken as the theme of a fundamentally a-senti- 
mental speculation, almost that of an extra-human being training 
himself to consider this sort of operation. Here the rigorously 
logical and expected are married to the arbitrary and the gratuitous. 
And one very soon abandons oneself to the charm of a kind of 
great modern legend where everything is unified by lyricism. I will 
limit myself again to facilitating one's reading of it by very briefly 
describing the relationship with life that seems to me to unite the 
thirteen principal component parts of the work that I have just 
enumerated. 

The bride, by means of the three nets above her (the draft pistons) 
exchanges orders with the bachelor machine, orders that are 



transmitted along the milky way. For this, the nine malic moulds, 
in the appearance of waiting, in red lead, have by definition 're- 
ceived' the lighting gas and have taken moulds of it; and when 
they hear the litanies of the chariot recited (the refrain of the 
bachelor machine), let this lighting gas escape through a given 
number of capillary tubes placed towards their top (each one of 
these tubes, where the gas is drawn out, has the shape of a 
standard stop, that is to say the shape that is adopted, as it 
meets the ground, by a thread one meter long that has previously 
been stretched horizontally one meter above ground and has then 
been suddenly allowed to fall of its own accord). The gas, being thus 
brought to the first sieve, continues to undergo various modifica- 
tions in its state until in the end, after passing through a kind of 
toboggan or corkscrew, it becomes, as it comes out of the last 
sieve, explosive fluid (dust enters into the preparation of the 
sieves: dust-raising allows one to obtain four-month dust, six- 
month dust, etc. . . . Some varnish has been allowed to run over this 
dust in order to obtain a kind of transparent cement). During the 
whole of the operation just described, the chariot (formed of rods of 
emancipated metal) recites, as we have seen, its litanies ('Slow 
life. Vicious circle. Onanism. Horizontal. Tin for cans, ropes, wire. 
Wooden pulleys for eccentrics. Monotonous fly-wheel. Beer pro- 
fessor.') while at the same time performing a to-and-fro motion 
along its gutter. This movement is determined by the regulated fall 
of the bottles of Benedictine (whose density oscillates) 
that are axled on the water-mill's wheel (a kind of water jet comes 
in a semi-circle from the corner above the malic moulds). Its effect 
is to open the scissors, thus producing the splash. The liquid gas 
thus splashed is thrown vertically; it goes past the oculist witnesses 
(the dazzling of the splash) and reaches the region of the pulls 
(of gunfire) corresponding to the reduction of the objective by an 
'average skill' (a schematic version of any object). The gravity 
manager, lacking, ought to have been balanced on the bride's dress 
and thus suffered the countershock of the various episodes of a 
boxing bout taking place beneath him. The bride's dress, through 
whose three planes the mirroric return of each drop of the dazzled 
splash takes place, was intended to be conceived as an application of 
the Wilson-Lincoln system (that is to say by making the most of 
some of the refractory properties of glass, after the manner of those 
portraits 'that, seen from the right, reveal Wilson, then, seen 
from the left, reveal Lincoln'). The inscription for the top, supported 
by a kind of flesh-colored milky way, is obtained, as we have seen, 
by means of the three draft pistons that consist of three perfect 
squares cut out of bunting and are supposed to have changed their 
shape as they flapped in the wind. Through these pistons are trans- 
mitted the orders that are intended to reach the pulls and the splash, 



in the last of which the series of bachelor operations reaches its 
conclusion. One should observe that the chocolate-grinder (whose 
bayonet acts as a support for the scissors), in spite of the relatively 
important space that it occupies in the glass, seems to be specially 
intended to qualify bachelors concretely, by applying the funda- 
mental adage of spontaneity: 'a bachelor grinds his own choco- 
late'. 

This commentary has but one object, to furnish a spatial basis for 
the orientation of anyone who questions the image of La Mariee 
mise a nu and allows himself to be intrigued to the point of 
classifying according to some order the loose papers of the magni- 
ficent 1934 box. But to this commentary one should add several 
others: philosophical, poetical, expressing faith or suspicion, novel- 
istic, humorous, etc. Probably only the erotic commentary on La 
Mariee mise a nu cannot be ignored now. Fortunately, this com- 
mentary exists: written by Duchamp himself, it consists of a ten- 
page text that anyone who wants can today afford to seek and find 
among the ninety-four documents in the green box. I quote it too 
briefly, but may this extract inspire some reader to study the whole 
admirable document and thus reward him for the effort I have de- 
manded of him when introducing him to the analytical details that 
alone could initiate him into the life of this kind of anti-picture: 

'La Mariee mise a nu par ses celibataires. 2 principal ele- 
ments: — 1. The Bride. — 2. The Bachelors. . . As the bachelors are 
intended to serve as an architectonic base for the Bride, the latter 
becomes a kind of apotheosis of virginity. A steam-engine on a 
masonry pediment. On this brick base, a solid foundation, the 
bachelor machine, all grease and lubricity (to be developed). — Just 
where, as one still ascends, this eroticism reveals itself (and it must 
be one of the major cogs of the bachelor machine), this tormented 
cog gives birth to the desire-part of the machine. This desire-part 
then changes its mechanical status, from that of a steam engine to 
that of internal combustion engine. And this desire-motor is the 
last part of the bachelor machine. Far from being in direct contact 
with the Bride, the desire-motor is separated from her by a gilled 
cooler. This cooler is to express graphically that the Bride, instead of 
being a mere asensual icicle, warmly rejects, not chastely, the 
bachelors' rebuffed offers. . . In spite of this cooler there exists no 
solution of continuity between the bachelor machine and the Bride. 
But the bonds will be electrical and will thus express her being 
stripped: an alternating process. If necessary, short circuit. 



form to the laws of the equilibrium of weights, a bright metal stan- 
chion might nevertheless represent the virgin's attachment to her 
girl-friends and her parents. . . Basically, the Bride is a motor. 
But before being a motor that transmits timidity-power, she is this 
very timidity-power which is a kind of petrol, a gasoline of love 
that, distributed among the very weak cylinders, within the reach 
of the sparks of its constant life, serves to achieve the final flowering 
of this virgin who has reached the goal of her desire. (Here the 
desire-cog will occupy less space than in the bachelor machine. It is on- 
ly the string that binds the bouquet.) The whole graphical stress leads 
up to the cinematic blossoming which, determined by the electrical 
stripping of the clothes, is the halo of the Bride, the sum-total of her 
splendid vibrations. Graphically, it is not at all a matter of symbolis- 
ing in a lofty painting this happy goal, the Bride's desire; but more 
clear in all this blossoming, painting will be an inventory only of the 
elements of this blossoming, elements of the sex-life imagined by 
the desiring Bride. In this blossoming, the Bride reveals herself in 
two appearances: the first is that of her being stripped by the bache- 
lors, while the second is that of the Bride's own volitional imagina- 
tion. On the coupling of these two appearances of pure virginity, 
on their collision, all the blossoming depends, the higher whole and 
crown of the composition. Therefore one must elaborate: firstly, 
the blossoming in the stripping by the bachelors; secondly, the 
blossoming in the stripping imagined by the Bride; thirdly, once 
these two graphical elaborations have been achieved, one must 
find their reconciliation which must be the blossoming without any 
causal distinction.' 

I think it is unnecessary to insist on all the absolute novelty that is 
hidden within such a conception. No work of art seems to me, up to 
this day, to have given as equitable scope to the rational and the 
irrational as La Mariee mise a nu. And even its impeccable dia- 
lectical conclusion, as one has just seen, assures it an important 
place among the most significant works of the twentieth century. 
What Marcel Duchamp, in a caption to be found amongst his notes, 
has called a glass delay, 'a delay in all the general sense that is 
possible, a glass delay as one says a prose poem or a silver cuspi- 
dor,' has not finished being a landmark whereby one can truly 
classify everything that artistic routine may yet try to achieve 
wrongly as advance. It is wonderful to see how intact it manages 
to keep its power of anticipation. And one should keep it luminously 
erect, to guide future ships on a civilization which is ending. 



'The Bride. — In general, if this Bride motor must appear as an 
apotheosis of virginity, that is to say of ignorant desire, white desire 
(with a point of malice) and if it does not graphically need to con- 



Andre Breton 

From Minotaure, No 6. Paris, 1935. 



Rendezvous du Dimanche 6 Fevrier 1916 a l h 3/U apres-midi 



porte, des maintenant par grande 
quantite, pourront faire valoir le 
clan oblong qui, sans oter aucun 
traversin ni contourner rnoins 
de grelots, va remettre. Deux 
fois seulement, tout eleve voudrait 
traire, quand il facilite la 
bascule disseminee; mais, comme 
quelqu'un demonte puis avale des 
dechirements nains nombreux, soi 
compris, on est oblipe d'entamer 
plusieurs grandes horloges pour 
obtenir un tiroir a bas age. 
Conclusion: apres maints efforts 
en vue du peigne, quel dommageJ 
tous les fourreurs sont partis et 
signifient riz. Aucune demande 
ne nettoie 1' ignorant ou scie 
teneur; toutefois, etant donnees 
quelques cages, c'eut une 
profonde emotion qu'executent 
toutes colle3 alitees. Tenues, 
vous auriez manque si s'etait 
trouvee la quelque prononciation 



Ut. 



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flatten 



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*io$i>nci- am d-^tw sulfa <// wufat 



/itJSJ/u/ /rrt, ru^ t g||gjj|£ fUJ/t . 



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Feinture de precision, beaute d 1 indifference 




Marcel Duchamp ((The Chess Players » 1910 Oil 45x57Va" The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art 




Marcel Duchamp «The Artist's Father» 1910 Oil 36 3 /»x28'/e 



The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art 




Marcel Duchamp « Yvonne and Magdeleine torn in Tattersi) 1911 Oil 23'/2- 28V<." The LouUe and Walter Arensberg Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art 




Marcel Duchamp « The Sonata » 1911 Oil 57x4472" 



The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art 




Marcel Duchamp « Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 1» 1911 Oil 37 3 / 4 x 23V2" 

The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art 




Marcel Duchamp ((Portrait of Chess Playerso 1911 Oil 39 3 /« x 39 3 A 



The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art 




Marcel Duchamp «Le Passage de la Vierge a la Marieen 1912 Oil 23 3 /a> 21'/* 



Collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York 




Marcel Duchamp «The Bride I) 1912 Oil 35 l /»x21 3 /a The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art 




Marcel Duchamp « Why not sneeze Rose Selavy ?» 1921 Ready-made V h " high The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, Philadelphia Museum or i 




Marcel Duchamp ((Chocolate Grinder, No. 2 » 1914 Oil 25'/2X21'/«" The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection. Philadelphia Museum of Art 



Biographical Notes 



Marcel Dachamp 



1887 28 July, born Blainville, near Rouen 

brother of painters Jacques Villon, Suzanne Dachamp, and sculptor 

Raymond Duchamp-Villon 

attended school, Rouen 

librarian, Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve, Paris 
1904 studied painting, Academie Julian, Paris 

1910 painting, Portrait of Father, exhibited Salon d'Automne 
first Chessplayers 

1911 formally joined Cubists 

first sketches and first oil for Nude Descending a Staircase 

The Coffee Grinder 

painted Portrait of Chess Players 

1912 Nude Descending a Staircase, No 2 exhibited with Section d'Or, Paris 
painted The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes 
Munich: The Virgin, The Bride 

1913 Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries, first pencil study 
Boxing match. Chocolate Grinder, No 1 

Armory Show, New York: The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift 
Nudes 

Portrait of Chess Players 
Nude Descending a Staircase 
Nude (sketch) 

1913 Water Mill within Glider (in Neighboring Metals), first painting 
on glass 

1914 Paris, painted Bachelors 

created first 'ready-mades', Pharmacy; bottle-rack 
Chocolate Grinder, No 2 

1915 left Paris for New York 

1915-1923 worked on glass, La mariee mise a nu par ses celibataires, 
meme 

1916 Nude Descending a Staircase, No 3, made especially for Walter and 
Louise Arensberg 

ready-made. Ball of twine 

ready-made, Girl with Bedstead (Apolinere Enameled), 1916-1917 

founding member of the Society of Independent Artists, Inc. 



1935 

1937 



published reviews, The Blind Man, Rong-wrong 

sent ready-made Fountain, porcelain urinal, to first exhibition of Independent 

signed it R. Mutt, rejected by executive committee, from which he resigned 

quasi-Dada group with Picabia, Man Ray, Jean Crotti 

mural painting, Tu m' 

to Argentina 

to Paris, ready-made vial, 50 cc. Air de Paris 
La Joconde with moustache: LHOOQ -visual and literal pun 
New York, with Katherine S. Dreier, organized the Society Anonyme, first museum 
of modern art 

birth of ROSE SELAVY in New York 

Revolving Glass (Apareil Rotatif, Optique de Precision) 
New York, with Man Ray, published one issue of New York Dada 
constructed object Why not sneeze? 

Paris, exhibited in international exhibition organized by Dadaists, Galerie Montaigne 
began creation of anagrams, word games 

left La mariee mise a nu ■ ■ ■ unfinished, to devote himself to chess and 
experiments in optics 
associated with the surrealists, Paris 
produced film, Anemic Cinema 
Paris 

wrote book on chess 

organized exhibition of modern art for Societe Anonyme, Brooklyn Museum 
-1927 installed Brancusi exhibit, Brummer Gallery, New York, and Arts Club of 
Chicago 

started making roto-reliefs 

made the Box, portfolio containing 93 documents in facsimile 
bookcover for Jarry's TJbu Roi, bookbinding executed by Mary Reynolds 
first one-man show, Arts Club of Chicago 
published Rrose Selavy: Oculisme de Precision 
organized surrealist exhibition in New York with Andre Breton 
published suitcase with reproductions, Boite-en-valise 

■1944 New York, with David Hare, Andre Breton, Max Ernst, edited VW, surrealist 
review 

International surrealist exhibition, Paris; contributed 'Rain Room' and 'Labyrinth' 
made cover for catalogue 
became American citizen 



Selected Bibliography 



Jean Adhemar. Jacques Villon. Oeuvre grave. Louis Carre, Paris, 1954. 

Guillaume Apollinaire. Les peintres cubistes. Figiii'ere, Paris, 191 ). 

Dore Ashton. Jacques Villon, 'Father oj modern printmakiug '. Art 

Digest, New York, September if, tor;. 

Jacqueline Aubert et Charles Perussaux. Jacques I 'Won; catalogue de 

son ceuvre grave. Editions Paul P route, Paris, 19 jo. 

Andre Ereton. Le surrealisms et la peinture. Brentano's, New York, 

'94J- 

Andre Breton. Anthologie de 1' humour uoir. Editions du Sagittaire, Paris, 

1940. 

Collection of the societe anonyme. Catalogue. Yale University Art 

Gallery, New Haven, 19JO. 

Pierre Courthion. Decomposition et recomposition de I'espace. AA' e si'ecle, 

Paris, January 19 J2. 

Bernard Dor ival. Les etapes de la peinture franfaise contemporaine, I ~ol. II. 

Paris, 1944. 

KatherineS.Dreier. Western Art and the new Era. NewYork, Brentano' s , 

192). 

Arthur Jerome Eddy. Cubists and Post-Impressionism. Chicago, A. C. 

Ale Clurg e~ Co., 1914. 

Charles Estienne. Jacques I 'Won. Art d'aujourd'hui, Paris, December 1949. 

James Fitzsimmons. Jacques \ 'Won. Arts and Architecture, Los Angeles, 

September 19;). 

Waldemar George. Jacques Villon et le cubisme francais. Le Peintre, 

Paris, February ij, 19JI. 

Cleve Gray. Jacques I 'Won. Profits No. }. Paris, April 19J3. 

George Heard Hamilton. Duchamp, Duchamp-X 'Won, Villon. Bulletin 

of the Associates in Fine Arts at Yale University, New Haven, March 1945. 

George Heard Hamilton. The Dialectic of later Cubism: Villon's 

Jockey. Magazine oj Art, New York, November 1048. 

Jacques Lassaigne. E/oge de Jacques Villon. Manuel Bruker, Paris, 19; f. 



Jacques Lassaigne. Developpement de Feeuvre de Jacques Villon. Histoire de 

la peinture moderns, Skira, Geneve, Paris, 19JO. 

Jacques Lassaigne. Jacques Villon on la Constance. Revue de la Pense'e 

franfaise, New York, Montreal, November 1910. 

Andre Lhote. Cubisme. Art d'aujourd'hui, Paris, March 19 jo. 

William S. Lieberman. Jacques I 'Won: His graphic Art. The Museum of 

Modern Art, New York, I9J>- 

Rene Massat. Jacques Villon. Cahiers d'Art, Paris, lf}i. 

Jerome Mellquist. Jacques Villon, Maitre de Puteaux. Documents, No. 3, 

Geneve, December 19JO. 

Jerome Mellquist. Jacques \ 'Won. L'Oeil, Lausanne, February 19JJ. 

Raymond Mortimer. Jacques Villon. Horizon, No. XII, London, August 

>94>- 

Walter Pach. I Won. Societe Anonyme, New York, 1921. 
Walter Pach. The Masters oj Modern Art. B. IF". Huebsch, New York, 
1924. 

Walter Ykcw. Queer Thing, Painting. Harper, New York, 19)8. 
Walter Pach. Thus is Cubism cultivated. Art News, New York, May 1949. 
Maurice Raynal. Peinture moderne. Skira, Geneve, Paris, New York, 19;). 
Rene- Jean. Jacques I Won. Collection «Initier», Brauu, Paris, 194,. 
Rene- Jean. Devant les tableaux de Jacques I 'Won. Arts de France, Paris, 
February 1948. 

Henri-Pierre Roche. Souvenirs sur Marcel Duchamp. La Nouvelle 
Revue Franfaise, Paris, June 19 j). 

Winthrop Sargeant. Dado's Daddy. Lije Magazine, NewYork, April 28, 
I9!2. 

Toti Scialoja. Jacques Villon. L' ' Immagine, Rome, 1948. 
Lionello Venture La peinture contemporaine. Ulrica Hoepli, Milan, n. d. 
View. Marcel Duchamp Number. New York, March 194J. 
Jacques Villon, Lyonel Feininger. Preface by James S. Plant. Institute 
of Contemporary Art, Boston, 1949. 



Acknowledgement 



In addition to those who have made this exhibition 
possible through their generous loans, thanks are also 
and in particular due to Marcel Duchamp. The idea 
of grouping the work by the three brothers was his. 
We are also indebted to him for the plan and design 
of the catalogue as well as the choice of the texts. 
His advice in the selection of the exhibits and help in 
assembling them have made the exhibition a realization.